#MangaMonday Review – Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Vol 1 by Akiko Higashimura

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Vol 1
By: Akiko Higashimura
Illustrator: Akiko Higashimura; Rina Mapa (Lettering)
Translator: Steven LeCroy
Release Date: June 12, 2018; (original) September 12, 2014
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Series: Tokyo Tarareba Girls
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)

You’ve probably read (or watched) Princess Jellyfish. But have you read Tokyo Taraeba Girls by Akiko Higashimura?

The story is about Rinko, a 33 year old woman who is without a husband. Her days are taken up by going to work, and her evenings with drinking with her friends. When they hear that the 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo the friends make a pact – to have a husband by the 2020 Olympics.

Rinko isn’t necessarily a likeable character. Things don’t always go her way, but this isn’t always due to the unfairness of the universe or the struggles of adult life. Many of the manga’s events are completely due to her actions or, conversely, inactions. Rinko’s a little selfish. A man’s looks are the most important factor when trying to find a date. She tends to moan and groan and drink with her friends instead of actually trying to remedy her problems.

I tend to love stories like this. A character who may or may not bring their troubles on themselves struggling against, seemingly, the universe. They’re fun slice of life stories with great appeal. However, the mark is missed slightly here. Scenes lingered just a hint too long. When there is a lesson to be learned Rinko normally misses it. She never comes to any sort of conclusions or thinks about the situation too hard, even if there is an obvious takeaway from the situation. On top of that are certain things that just leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Honestly, many character’s actions are questionable at best. Decisions made by Rinko’s bosses at work don’t seem to be made with any sort of common sense. The ladies constant drinking after work would be amusing if they did more than whine and black out every night. There are issues of very questionable consent late in the volume, which I really didn’t like.

I really loved the talking food which appear in the manga. These two anthropomorphic creatures usually appear when Rinko drinks too much and begins to get inside her own head. They speak to her, repeating her fears, desires, and what-ifs. They’re a wonderful touch, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the talking kitchen appliances from Welcome to the NHK. These function in much of the same fashion, and really drive home just what sort of mental headspace Rinko is in. Elements such as this really carried the volume.

This is a good manga overall, and one which I might continue with. Even so, it frustrated me immensely in certain places. Other manga and light novels with similar unreliable narrators who are self-defeating usually have one thing that makes me root for them – they’re overall nice people, or at least people who mean well. Certain things Rinko says and does makes her come across as mean and self-centered, making her less likeable than she could have been.

As for the art, it is gorgeous. I have always love Akiko Higashimura’s art, and Tokyo Tarareba Girls is certainly no exception. The characters are pretty, the backgrounds are detailed, and really enjoyed the artistic aspect of the manga. Her art is iconic. It isn’t mistakable for any other art. And I would buy this manga simply for this.

In all, Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura wasn’t for me. I’m unsure if I’ll be continuing with this series. It does have themes I really enjoy, and I might read the second volume at some point. If you like contemporary stories and characters with unreliable narration this is something you’ll want to pick up.

Read If:
You like unreliable narrators

Don't Read If:
You don't like characters who can be whiny

About author

Kathleen Townsend

Kate writes things, reads things, and writes about things she reads. She’s had a few short stories published, and works as a freelance editor. Favorite genres include epic & high fantasy, science fiction, time travel stories, video game related tales, light novels, and manga.

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